It is not an uncommon scenario: Citizens pass a simple term limits law and self-interested incumbents tie up the courts and murder the English language to protect their positions of meager power. Sometimes they’ll force illegal elections and round up the local establishment and media to come to their aid.
The battles are fierce and often exciting but then when good guys finally win, it almost seems anti-climactic. Well, of course the good guys won. The law was so clear…
No! No! No!
When rogue 4-term Palm Beach Gardens Council member David Levy challenged the retroactive term limits law passed by some 70% of his fellow citizens by running for a fifth term, City Clerk Patricia Snider and even the county’s Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher lawyered up and circled the wagons around him. Local media treated Levy’s campaign as legitimate in spite of the unambiguous results of the 2014 election in favor of retroactive term limits.
The lower courts, too timid to enforce the law in this environment, allowed the election to go on and then, after it ended in a runoff, tried to broker a compromise solution between the local political establishment and the citizens of Palm Beach Gardens.
The local political bullies came close to winning a partial victory, allowing Levy to run for office for a fifth term. But thankfully two citizen heroes, lawyer James D’Loughy and plaintiff Sid Dinerstein wouldn’t settle. They took the case to the Fourth District Court of Appeals where judges on Friday, June 24, ruled that — surprise! — the voters overwhelmingly approved term limits and made them retroactive and that 4-term incumbents like David Levy are not eligible to run unless they sit out a term first.
This victory for the citizens was by no means preordained. They won only because D’Loughy and Dinerstein insisted on fighting the corrupt local power until the citizens got 100% of what they voted for.
Yes, we can fight city hall. D’Loughy and Dinerstein proved it once again. So, if this happens in your town, you know what to do.